The Mustang is the heart and soul of the Ford brand, even if the automaker plans to dump all of its cars and sedans for crossovers and SUVs. The Mustang is a car with legacy, and Ford is pulling all the stops for the latest model.
One example is this Mustang GT we’re testing, which comes equipped with the Performance Level 2.
Now, most performance packages improve horsepower in some way or another, but this one (dubbed PP2) keeps the engine in its usual GT specifications. That means there’s a 5.0-liter V8 under the hood, and it makes 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed manual transmission, a requirement for PP2. Some have pegged the 0-60 times in the four-second range, making this a very quick car. Top speed is limited to just 155 MPH, if you want more, you’ll have to opt for the more powerful (though less track focused) Bullitt, or the more hardcore Shelby GT350. If fuel economy is of any concern, the Mustang isn’t going to be your top choice, earning a combined 18 MPG.
The Shelby GT350 is an important car to mention in regards to this Mustang GT Performance Package 2. Many of the upgrades on this car are derived in some way or form from the GT350, which is a more expensive and track focused vehicle. The Mustang GT is still very much a road car, but the upgrades will allow you to enjoy it both on the road and on the track.
For example, the car comes equipped with wide Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, which are super grippy. There are also massive six-piston Brembo brakes. Behind all that is a MagneRide suspension system, which also helps with grip and responsiveness. Finally, you get a Torsen rear differential to ensure that all that power from the rear wheels doesn’t go to waste.
The Performance Package 2 also has a few speedy-looking accents, like the big front splitter and the blacked out rear spoiler. And to help this model stand out it’s been equipped with a quad-tipped active exhaust system.
What you need to know is that the Mustang drives as well as it sounds. It’s a robust sound, so naturally, this is a fully featured car. So fully featured in fact, that you can switch between different exhaust noises, different steering modes, drive modes, and traction settings. It offers such a customizable experience, and there’s even a shortcut to your specific profile, one that just screams “This is me!”
But this is the essence of the Mustang. Ford has made it a car that’s ready for anyone. You can choose a coupe, or convertible, four-cylinder or V8, automatic or manual, daily driver or track weapon. There are so many combinations to choose from.
Things like manual transmissions and V8s are dying away with limited cars offering such hardware. But at least the ones that are left are fantastic. This engine sounds great, it pulls so strong, and with such great confidence. It keeps up with traffic, and can even set the pace if the roads clear up. It’s fantastically responsive, with none of the lag or peakiness of some turbocharged engines. Finally, the noises it makes are fantastic, without droning. And for those feeling bouts of shyness, you can put the exhaust in quiet mode to draw minimal attention.
Back to those tires and the suspension. This is a very engaging and great handling version of the Mustang. It’s hard to imagine how much more grip the GT350 could have over this track package. The large 305 width rubber sticks right out of the wheel wells giving the Mustang a badass look, like it’s taking over the whole lane. The suspension is extremely good at being smooth and compliant while cruising, but firming up quickly when you need to tackle a corner. It responds immediately and keeps the ride flat as well. That’s not an easy balancing act to handle – this is seriously high-performance tech, reserved mostly for vehicles that are designed to set blazing hot times at the local track.
But all that high-performance gear comes with a downside. The tires tramline and follow the grooves in the road. You can’t drive this thing with one hand, as the wheel is constant pulling left and right. The tires also won’t bode very well in the rain and aren’t the most long-lasting out there. And the cost for replacing them won’t be gentle on the wallet. The brakes also bite with ferocity, meaning you need to be very measured with your foot movement. And of course, with the MagneRide suspension in sport and track settings, the ride can be a bit harsh.
Your friends won’t understand the big deal with this Performance Package Level 2 Mustang. It doesn’t have more power and it is less comfortable. But fortunately, you don’t have to buy cars to impress your friends. The first moment you reach a corner or windy road, you’ll understand what the extra equipment is good for. It turns in with no hesitation or delay. It’s perfect for those who want the most engaging and rewarding driving experience out of a Mustang. It corners flat, it responds promptly, it sounds great and it is wonderful to drive.
Ford could have stopped right here, making the Mustang merely a good performance car, but our model is packed with lots of safety gear like automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring.
But let’s pump the brakes for a second. Not everything in the Mustang is top notch. The interior, in particular, is one of the weakest parts of the vehicle. The seating position takes some getting used to, especially with these manually adjustable Recaro seats. While they’re supportive, it’s hard to get placed just right, no matter how you adjust the seat and steering wheel. Furthermore, there are a lot of controls and buttons in this cabin. While toggle switches are cool, the dashboard can feel a bit cluttered. There are also a few rattles and creaks in the cabin, a hint that maybe all that stiffness combined with lax quality control may be a bad mix.
But the Mustang GT Performance Package is a decent deal. It’s just a $6,500 upgrade over the standard Mustang GT, and you get great tires, a top-notch suspension system, and strong brakes for that price. Some gearheads will be happy to make those changes to their car through the aftermarket, and they may enjoy the better value that way, but this one comes with the original factory backing for added peace of mind. Our tester though was well equipped beyond the performance package, coming in at about $53,535.
The Verdict: 2020 Ford Mustang GT Review
While Ford car lineup gets snapped into dust, car fans should be glad that the Mustang has transformed beyond mere Muscle car. With options like these, it’s a true sports car, one that can be enjoyed on the track or on the road.